On August 20, 2014

Hating my cell phone

By Scott Funk

It isn’t so much that I hate this phone as it is that I miss its predecessor. I’d just gotten where I was comfortable with it when they took it away. The guy at the phone store said it wasn’t compatible with the new 4G network. “No problem” he said, “you’re overdue for a free upgrade.” Then I got this phone and have spent the past year trying to figure out how to use it.

To be fair, I really didn’t love my previous cell phone, either. What I loved was the old, black, rotary-dial phone I stole from Ma Bell years ago. It’s now down in the cellar, boxed up with a lot of other stuff I won’t use again, but can’t part with, mementos of a bygone era when things were so easy to operate they came without instructions. People simply knew how to use them; it was obvious. There weren’t enough features to confuse a child.

The rotary dial was easy: you picked up the handset and heard a dial tone, then put your finger in one of the amply round holes and dialed. Even if you didn’t know how to hold the receiver, the sound let you know which end went over your ear.

That old black phone was indestructible. If you dropped it, whatever it hit broke, but the phone was fine. Things were built to last back then. If you moved to a new apartment, the old phone stayed and there would be a new “old phone” in the next place you rented. People didn’t actually own phones; they belonged to everyone, like the national parks.

Come to think of it, my cell phone wasn’t free. The “phone care” cost a hundred dollars and there was also the car charger, the holster, and an extra house charger (when I went on a trip without the charger). So my “free” phone set me back about $200!

So this phone and I got off to a bad start because it was just another version of every cell phone I’ve ever owned — too many features that can do things I don’t want but pop up and interrupt my making a phone call if I hit the wrong button. The worst is that my phone talks to me. All of a sudden I will hear, “Can I help you Scott?” in a voice that sounds like it is perfectly obvious I could use some help. It might as well say, “Hey, stupid, calm down. This thing is expensive. You don’t deserve 21st century technology.”

When I took it back to the store, the guy said I was hitting the wrong button. How do you not hit the wrong button? They are so small and close together! I try to be careful, but using the phone makes me nervous I’ll make a mistake and that darn voice will come back.

I keep getting invitations to “Tweet” on my phone and I hate that, too. “Tweeting,” sounds rude and undignified. When I know someone is tweeting, I instinctively look away.

And instant messaging makes me crazy. It doesn’t make sense; the message was sent from a phone to a phone. They had to take the time to type it on those little, bitty keys. I have to read the little, bitty writing. Both of us were on a phone. We could simply have talked and been done in a minute. Besides, a message is something you leave when you can’t reach someone, not something you leave in order not to reach them.

My cell phone is dragging me into a world I don’t want to be in. I hate its superior attitude and I hate it for the way it tries to complicate my life. The only thing good about the phone is I can take it everywhere, but then I hate its ringing interruptions.

Aging in place, it doesn’t happen by accident. Changing phones is just another burden of living longer.

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